DeSantis' team reacts to headlines accusing him of being anti-vax: 'Unfair and baseless'

Media top headlines August 2

In media news today, Chris Cuomo gets ripped for accusing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis of holding the U.S. ‘hostage’ to COVID, critics slam DC Mayor Muriel Bowser for violating her own mask mandate, and ABC’s political director calls out the Biden admin’s ‘confusing’ COVID messaging

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s team hit media outlets who partly blamed him for the rise in COVID-19 cases in the state and accused him of being anti-vax, calling the reports “misinformation” that could lead to “vaccine hesitancy.”

The Miami Herald, which has long had a tense relationship with the Republican governor, published an opinion piece suggesting DeSantis “groomed and enabled” the increase in cases.

“New in Opinion from @fabiolasantiago: It’s no joke: Florida leads the nation in COVID-19 cases, and hospitalizations are surging to a horribly familiar crisis point. This is the no-mask, anti-vaccine Florida that Gov. Ron DeSantis groomed and enabled.” 

In the middle of the piece in big, bold letters are the words “BLAME DESANTIS.” 

“This is the red Florida he has indulged with political gobbledygook about personal freedoms in the middle of a public-health emergency — and here are the consequences: a dubious No. 1 national ranking in cases of COVID-19, ” Fabiiola Santiago wrote.

Santiago also accused DeSantis of caring more about his merchandise sales than the victims of COVID. 

The Orlando Sentinel published a similar assertion about DeSantis’ relationship to the COVID vaccine with a recent headline: “DeSantis stops pushing shots.” 

DeSantis’ press secretary Christina Pushaw responded on Twitter, asking him to correct his “disinformation,” arguing that such reports could contribute to “vaccine hesitancy.”

“I feel like headlines such as @orlandosentinel’s contribute to vaccine hesitancy by turning it into a political issue. What if people read this lie and are misled into believing the Governor isn’t supporting vaccines anymore? That will not encourage them to get vaccinated,” she wrote.

“It is completely unfair and baseless to claim that Governor DeSantis is no longer promoting vaccination,” Pushaw said in a statement to Fox News. “Reports to that effect are both inaccurate and irresponsible. The Governor has consistently stated that vaccines are safe and effective in preventing serious illness in most people.”

Pushaw quoted DeSantis as having said that the vaccines “are saving lives, and reducing the mortality of COVID-19.”

While the governor has consistently opposed lockdowns because they have had “serious consequences for public health as well as the economy,” Pushaw said that “the Governor and Florida Department of Health have always encouraged Floridians to protect themselves and their communities.”

“The best way to do that is to get vaccinated,” she said. “The vaccines are safe and effective for most people and are freely available everywhere in Florida. Governor DeSantis has mentioned the vaccines positively almost 100 times in public remarks since November 2020.”

New York Post columnist Karol Markowicz also tried to debunk the media narrative DeSantis is opposed to vaccines, tweeting her observations from when she lived in Florida.

“I was living in Florida when vaccines were introduced and I was vaccinated in Florida,” she wrote. “The idea that DeSantis was ever even lukewarm on vaccines is ridiculous. So from left or right, if you only now realized DeSantis openly and often told people to get vaccinated, welcome.”

“Last winter, DeSantis was more pro-vaccine than Harris or Cuomo,” writer Pradheep J. Shanker tweeted. “This is an unassailable fact.”

Last year, both New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D., and then-vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris said they didn’t trust the vaccines that had been developed under the Trump administration. The same went for liberal media personalities like MSNBC’s Joy Reid, who last year tweeted, “Just speaking for myself, I wouldn’t go near anything that Trump or his politicized FDA had anything to do with.”

It’s not the first time DeSantis has found himself squared off against the Miami Herald. The outlet previously published a report in May claiming the Florida Department of Health received a “reprimand” from the Public Health Accreditation Board for not releasing accurate information on COVID-19 in schools. The governor’s office pushed back, noting that “no official representative of PHAB gave any indication that DOH was ever in any danger of losing accreditation.”

DeSantis has had other media clashes outside Florida. CBS’ “60 Minutes” aired an widely panned segment accusing DeSantis of giving the Publix grocery store preferable treatment to offer the coronavirus vaccine based on donations to his PAC. Publix, along with bipartisan voices in Florida, pushed back on the notion DeSantis’ selection of the store, which has hundreds of locations in the state, was swayed by a corporate PAC donation.

“They’ve issued a lot of mealy mouthed statements since the episode aired, they knew what they were putting on the air was false,” DeSantis said as he reacted to the report on “Fox & Friends.”

More recently, CNN’s Chris Cuomo, the New York governor’s younger brother, accused DeSantis of holding the country “hostage” because of how he’s handled the pandemic

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